Hot food retail sector gets government push

Riding high on the huge opportunity in a “sunrise” sector, food retail, the government is looking to set high benchmarks by releasing three new standards to bring such stores on a par with their global counterparts.

The sector, currently estimated at Rs 3.1 lakh crore, is growing 30% annually and is set to double in the next 15 years to Rs 6.6 lakh crore.

Considering such a big growth and its direct impact on the consumer, the national standards body — Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) — has come up with three standards for the growing food retail sector in terms of management, hygiene practices and processing of food.

The three standards to be launched soon include IS 16019:2012 for basic requirements in food retailing, IS 16020:2012 for good hygiene and food safety management, and IS 16021:2012 for good manufacturing practices in food processing.

“Since Indian food retail is a burgeoning sector and directly impacts consumers, BIS has come up with three standards to ensure quality and best practices on a par with global standards,” a senior official at BIS told Hindustan Times.

“Though it won’t be mandatory at present, the government is considering a proposal to compulsorily implement the standards in due course to ensure uniform quality in food retail across India,” he added.

With the emergence of the new urban middle class and changing consumer habits, food and grocery has emerged as the second-largest segment of the retail industry. India is among the world’s major food producers and ranks as the largest in production of livestock, milk and cereals, the second-largest in fruits and vegetable products, and among the top five in rice, wheat, groundnuts, tea, coffee, tobacco, spices, sugar and oilseeds.

“The Indian Standards on food retail management and good manufacturing practices will go a long way in the development of both the food retail and processing sector in India,” Arbind Kumar, director-general, FICCI, told HT.

“If FDI (foreign direct investment) in multi-brand retail sector is allowed, foreign retailers with expertise will bring in best practices in manufacturing, processing and distribution in India, thereby enhancing the objective for having the Indian Standards,”  he added.


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